So as I mentioned before, we will be pairing Widmers Aged Cheddar; Rogue River Smokey Blue Cheese; and Beehive Barely Buzzed Cheese running into Schlenkerla Urbock; DuClaw x-1 Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Chocolate Rye Porter; and Boulevard Double Wide India Pale Ale. The idea of this segment is to offer you 3 different cheeses paired with different beers. Things will vary but I would recommend you stick to around 3 cheeses and 3 beers because it becomes difficult to sense difference in the cheese when you have a bunch of contrasting styles (This goes for the beer as well). I don’t plan on buying ridiculous rare cheeses that no one can find; most of the cheese is available at Whole Foods or Giant, etc. I cannot promise you the same availability on the beer but I will do my best.
Beer #1: Schlenkerla Urbock
Schlenkerla is a small brewery in Bamburg, Germany which has kept true to the tradition of smoking their malt. This was an old way for Europeans to dry their grain because frankly Europe can be a rather wet cool place which doesn’t offer much opportunity to dry malt outside. The smoking process was first used out of necessity, but then used as a way to impart smokey and sometimes meaty flavors to traditional beers. If you see a beer that advertises “bacon” as a flavor, there is a very good chance that they are using a good portion of smoke malt (Which makes it kosher! or at least not automatically vetoed by being real pig). This beer is a strong malty meaty wonder that reminds me of ham which I think will pair exceptionally with the cheeses selected.
Widmers Aged Cheddar: Very smokey meat addition to a bold strong cheddar as though you are eating a nice piece of smoked ham on your cracker with the cheese. Great creamy way to enjoy a bold waxy cheddar.
Rogue River Smokey Blue Cheese: Silky and brings out the funky cheese aromatics of the blue while blending the smoke flavors. Fun suggestion to blend smoked cheeses with smoked beer to see how they play off each other.
Beehive Barely Buzzed Cheese: The lavender and coffee crust on the cheese mimics the aromatics of a rosemary/thyme crusted ham and the smoke beer just flushes the flavor out and reminds me of a rich ham. Wow this combination was unreal good. Now to see if this is just the beer or the cheese.
Beer #2: DuClaw x-1 Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Chocolate Rye Porter:
A rich flavorful porter that blends a lot of different ingredients and includes some bourbon aging for some fun. DuClaw always offers big bold beer including their Colossus that tops out in the 21% alcohol range.
Cheddar: Salty and sweet bourbon don’t really mix too well with this cheese. This is a little sickeningly sweet and I am just overwhelmed with the bourbon (not in a good way).
Blue: The bourbon mixes well with the smokiness of the blue cheese but the sweetness is a little odd.
Honey: The aromatics add well to the rye chocolate bourbon but the cheese is a little tough to eat with it.
I realize this was a little brief, but the learning curve with these cheeses and beers is that you need to match weight with weight. I thought the beer’s complex flavors would bring out some nice flavors but it just became hard to eat. Lesson learned, pair this with a big sweet cheese.
Beer #3: Boulevard Double Wide India Pale Ale:
I am actually going to lead into this with the news that this brewery has started to send beer to the DC area on a regular basis. Savor 2012 was kind of their coming out party and we can’t wait to get more of this Kansas City Brewery. This is a traditional double IPA that matches the style’s American innovation with big citrus and grapefruit character, big caramel and toffee malt and a punch in the tongue with all those great hops.
Cheddar: The beer makes the cheese creamy but the bitterness is overpowering. It didn’t smooth things as I expected. Perhaps a younger cheddar would have paired better.
Blue: The blue works well as a smooth creamy flavorful platform for the rich citrus bitter notes of the beer but you also get a flavor from the smoke that makes it suddenly taste like the smoke beer.
Honey: As you work down the piece you get that nice sweetness from the waxy cheese turning creamy and then you hit that lavender coffee crust and you get an explosion of flavors with rich tangerine mango citrus enhanced by the floral hops and some slight coffee bean flavor.
What I have to take away from this is that the Beehive Barely Buzzed Cheese was just an absolute winner. I had no idea that it had won major awards going in but I can see why. Does coffee just pair well with all things good? Beer, Cheese, Meat? Half the fun of these pairings is going out and trying something new and sometimes you get lucky. I hope you enjoyed this session because it was quite intoxicating to say the least. Cheers and hope you get to try some of these!
Coming up next: Beer Bourbon BBQ recap and new unreal beers that you can find in the DC area.